Off to Maine
18 August 2019 | Rockland, ME
We got a lazy start after breakfast out of Port Jeff and to catch the ebb tide down the Sound. We were off to Fisher’s Island, part of New York, even though it’s positioned just off the Connecticut shore. We had never been there despite passing it by many times. There are a couple of pretty anchorages there but no going ashore. It’s all private and exclusive.
The next day we were off eastbound to the anchorage at Point Judith, another spot that we’ve passed by many times and never stopped. It’s called a harbor of refuge and is a man made harbor with a seawall surrounding the entrance to Point Judith, RI, designed as a safe spot to wait out weather when transiting Rhode Island Sound and Block Island Sound. It turned out to be a very comfortable overnight with an easy in and out.
The next day dawned with thick fog and after waiting a few hours for it to burn off to no avail, we left with zero visibility. Thank goodness for the radar and plotter. After a couple of hours a 40 knot squall came roaring through and blew all the fog away. We had a great sail down Buzzards Bay to Onset, Mass, a favorite anchorage. We waited there a day to let some weather pass by, but didn’t get off the boat, as Molly was still recovering from her injuries. While there we heard the Cape Cod Canal Authority and Onset Harbor Master announce on the radio that they were escorting a humpback whale through the canal. I guess it can be a wildlife shortcut as well as for marine traffic.
The next day, after fueling up, we caught a fair tide through the canal and out into Cape Cod Bay. It was flat calm and we were motoring out into Massachusetts Bay and over the Stellwagan Bank, home to the right whales. We usually see some when we pass by here, but no sightings this time. We did see some boats fishing for tuna, and drug a line ourselves but no luck catching.
As night fell, the wind filled in and we had a nice sail north and as the sun rose the next morning, we sighted Seguin Island and the Maine coast. We headed up the Sheepscot River to Southport, planning to visit old Whitby friends there. We had a wonderful visit and enjoyed their company for several days, before heading past Boothbay Harbor and across Muscongus Bay to Penobscot Bay. It was a quiet day and we were motorsailing slowly along, enjoying the beautiful rocky and wooded coastline. We saw many sunfish, the unusual fish that swims on its side and is all head, and even saw a shark swimming along. We turned the corner and went up the Muscle Ridge Channel past many wave washed granite islands with spruce trees somehow finding enough soil to grow. We shot through Owl’s Head passage and around the corner and into Rockland Harbor.
Rockland is a typical Maine community and harbor, a fairly large town by Maine standards, protected by a mile long breakwater with an iconic lighthouse at the end. It, in the past, was a fish and lobster processing center and was a stinky place, but now, although the processing plants are still here, it is a tourist and boating mecca and the smells are gone. There are art museums and galleries galore and restaurants of all persuasions. All manner of repairs and supplies are also available making it a favorite destination.
We were here for the SSCA Downeast Gam, a cruising get together. We had a good time seeing old friends and also visiting the Sail and Steam Museum, where the Gam was held. We spent and extra day for provisioning and visiting Molly’s sister and then sailed out of Rockland harbor and over to Vinalhaven Island and the Fox Thorofare, a passage between Vinalhaven and North Haven Islands. We were able to sail across West Penobscot Bay and ghosted through the thorofare in company with one of the big schooners carrying passengers out of Rockland for a taste of old maritime Maine. We drifted out the eastern end of the passage and into the eastern bay and went around and down to Seal Bay on Vinalhaven. We entered the harbor at low tide and, in keeping with the name, there must have been a dozen or more seals sunning themselves out on the rocks. Invariably some of them slide into the water and come over to check us out. They look like dogs as they stick their heads up out of the water to take a peek and then quickly go under to hide. We spent several idyllic days there relaxing, reading, and letting Molly rest her leg. The eagles and ospreys kept us entertained as well as watching the seals fishing.
Then we were off to Mount Desert and Acadia Park. We sailed past Stonington , across Jerico Bay and Blue Hill Bay to Southwest Harbor and came to anchor in Norwood Cove. The next morning we dinghied over to SW Harbor and had breakfast at the Common Good. They are a community organization that provides for people who need help in the winter with food and supplies. In the summer they make popovers and oatmeal for breakfast and it’s all free, but everyone leaves a donation to support the cause. The popovers are the best and the cause is good, so the donation box stays full. If you get by this way, it’s definitely highly recommended. A stop at the bakery for some of the best raisin nut bread in the world completed our visit.
Then we headed up Some’s Sound, the only fiord in the lower 48, to Somesville, a favorite anchorage of ours. A very protected spot and a good place to catch the Island Explorer free bus makes it one of the best. We usually use it as a base of operations to hike the park, but this year we did no hiking due to Molly’s injuries. We did go into Bar Harbor for lunch and took a bus ride around the park for Molly’s birthday, and enjoyed the antics of the seals and eagles.
We headed back down the sound and around the corner to pick up a mooring in Northeast Harbor. A good laundry to wash clothes and showers to wash bodies was the attraction, as well as being a beautiful spot. It is also the home of the Docksider restaurant, one of our favorites. We had to stop in for a lobster roll and blueberry pie with ice cream.
We were out the harbor the next morning and back down the Western Way and around the south end of Mount Desert and up to the Wooden Boat School. After a quick visit to the school and store, we were back on the boat relaxing for the evening. The next morning was thick with fog but it burned off for the most part by noon and we were off up the Eggemogin Reach. The wind at our back kept us moving slowly up the reach and in and out of the fog. Watching the green hills and rocky shoreline pass by never gets old. We sailed out of the north end of the reach and into the fog, but saw it lift as we passed by the south end of Cape Rosier. Around the corner and we arrived at Castine and sailed into the harbor and around to Smith’s Cove. We just got the anchor down and boat secured when the fog came back in and soon the rain started. Today we remain in this snug anchorage to wait out the weather and let the sun return. Hopefully tomorrow we can head over to Belfast, another favorite place and have another visit with Molly’s sister and family. Look for a few new pictures in the gallery.